Now and then I think of when we were together,
Like when you said you felt so happy you could die,
Told myself that you were right for me,
But felt so lonely in your company,
But that was love and it's an ache I still remember.

You can get addicted to a certain kind of sadness,
Like resignation to the end,
Always the end,
So when we found that we could not make sense,
Well you said that we would still be friends,
But I'll admit that I was glad that it was over.

But you didn't have to cut me off,
Make out like it never happened,
And that now we're nothing,
And I don't even need your love,
But you treat me like a stranger,
And that feels so rough,
No you didn't have to stoop so low,
Have your friends collect your records,
And then change your number,
I guess that I don't need that though,
Now you're just somebody that I used to know,
Now your just somebody that I used to know,
Now your just somebody that I used to know,
Now your just somebody that I used to know.

Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over
But had me believing it was always something that I'd done
And I don't wanna live that way
Reading into every word you say
You said that you could let it go
And I wouldn't catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know...

But you didn't have to cut me off,
Make out like it never happened,
And that now were nothing,
And I don't even need your love,
But you treat me like a stranger,
And that feels so rough.
No you didn't have to stoop so low,
Have your friends collect your records,
And then change your number,
I guess that I don't need that though,
Now you're just somebody that I used to know,
I used to know,
Now your just somebody that I used to know,
I used to know,
Now your just somebody that I used to know,

I used to know
That I used to know


Lyrics submitted by 60_miles_an_hour, edited by PoonKnows, Nemo123

Somebody That I Used To Know song meanings
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  • +46
    General Comment

    To me, this song is about clinging onto an illusion of the perfect person, the 'person that you used to know'. After discovering that you had in fact put them on a pedastal, and that they never were that perfect person, you are still unable to let them go because your illusions clash with reality and it is a never ending struggle between accepting who they are- and who you thought they were.

    "You said that you could let it go And I wouldn't catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know..."

    It is about that tiny little fibre in your body that cannot erase the memory of them, and that tiny little fibre is what causes most of the conflict: your voice speaks and says that you would never be hung up over this person, and yet, the entire song is dedicated to the memory of that person and the damage they have caused you. so you ARE, after all, hung up on them...and that is the contrast between your voice (voice of reason) and your heart (with which your true feelings lie)....I think that might be why there is such a huge play on body parts in the video clip...and how each body part is colored represents all the different thoughts in your mind that are contradicting each other.

    missxton July 25, 2011   Link
  • +36
    General Comment

    Kimbra's whole part in this song starting from "Now and then I think of all the times you screwed me over" does so much for me. It takes the idea that the lead singer has been victimized and completely turns it on it's end. After Kimbra's verse I feel like I can really hear Gotye becoming more defensive and questioning his side of the story. He isn't just a victim, he has to defend his actions which gives the song so much more depth than if it was just another singer complaining about how his ex ruined him.

    Really fantastically done!

    elcheeserpuffon August 07, 2011   Link
  • +26
    Song Meaning

    I think this song is two perspectives.

    A man thinking about an old relationship. He fell in love with her, even thought it wasn't perfect. He knew that, but tried to convince himself otherwise. Later, we discover that things didn't work out.

    He was addicted to the sadness of the situation. Or of her. Or both. The idea that he knew it was doomed. And that is what made him stay in the relationship.

    And then they discovered this wasn't going to work. She said that they could still be friends. And he was relieved, because finally, the expected ending had arrived. Finally, what he was waiting for, had been anticipating this entire relationship, had happened. They were over.

    Ah, but why?

    As she tells us, now and then she thinks off all the time he screwed her over. Times he went to see the ex-girlfriend. The one he still thought of, even though it was doomed, and did end. This woman realizes that, while she wants him, he was still hung up on another girl. Still thought of her. Missed her. Maybe even compared the two. Her and the last girl. She and somebody that he used to know. So she has this sadness with her. And he sees that this relationship is doomed. But he still can't stop dwelling on the ex-girlfriend. So what does she do? She dumps him. She doesn't want to see him at all. Doesn't want to hear from him. Has friends pick up her stuff. Just like the last girl did.

    And this triggers something in him. Now he wants her. He forgets the last ex-girlfriend. He can't understand why this one doesn't want anything to do with him. Why does she avoid him when he sees her out with friends? How come she doesn't respond to his texts? Why has she become just somebody that he used to know?

    And so the cycle continues.

    Our hero, forever pining after a love that he will never receive because it is always too late; loving somebody that he used to know.

    rscofieldon September 02, 2011   Link
  • +16
    My Interpretation


    The lyrical interpretation seems pretty straightforward to me, and thus I don't think it is worth dissecting. The video, however, is much deeper. So I've decided that I'm going to analyze the video in this essay.

    VIDEO INTERPRETATION (in chronological order):

    1. Abstract Mosaic Art
      • Mosaic art is a form of art which divides a surface (usually with straight lines) -- in the video the divisions are also colored in randomly. I think the music video uses this to represent human crowds. In a crowd of people, everyone is different. But try imagining a large crowd of people in your head. If you imagine the crowd in its entirety you don't focus as much on each and every individual. Each individual blends into the whole, just like each colored piece in the mosaic is merely a part of the entire art piece.

    Notice how Gotye blends into the mosaic art because he is completely painted (well, except for his right cheek, which I'll talk about later in this essay). He blends in because the video is trying to metaphorically depict someone who blends into a crowd, who doesn't stand out anymore to their loved one, after they end a relationship with that loved one.

    1. Naked to Painted

      • Notice how Gotye starts out as naked but then becomes painted RIGHT when he sings the third verse. This is important because the video matches what is going on lyrically. Here, Gotye talks about how his lover (Kimbra) harshly cut him off from her life. Gotye then slowly becomes painted -- him being painted represents how he thinks he slowly became a piece of the mosaic, or just a face in the crowd to Kimbra.
    2. Gotye the Statue

      • Now I'll talk a bit about the use of tableau in the music video. When Gotye's verses end for the first time, he ceases movement and expresses no emotion. This not only marks the beginning of Kimbra's turn to express her side of the story, but it represents how the two lovers must be physically separated from each other to quite some degree. I interpret the video as Gotye and Kimbra -not- arguing face to face. Instead, I think that they are reflecting upon the arguments they had with each other after they broke up.
    3. Kimbra's Turning Stare

      • This accentuates Kimbra's scorn for Gotye.
    4. Kimbra and Gotye's Unpainted Halves of their Face

      • A cliche metaphor: It represents two individuals who become one when they are together. However, when they split up they become imperfect and incomplete halves of a whole.

    The unpainted back of Kimbra should be seen as a separate theme and unrelated to this metaphor.

    1. Kimbra Walks Towards Gotye

      • Kimbra and Gotye are not arguing face-to-face. However, their old arguments have had such a strong imprint on their memories that to them, it feels as though they are in fact face-to-face/right beside each other once again.
    2. Gotye and Kimbra Turning Their Heads Towards Each Other

      • Whenever the two turn their unpainted faces towards the viewer (i.e. Gotye turning to his left, Kimbra turning to her right), it is representing something. First, I argue that the unpainted side of their faces is the only thing that sticks out in the mosaic -- whenever it is turned towards the viewer it represents how either Gotye or Kimbra stick out of the crowd momentarily. It represents how when the two remember their arguments, they cease becoming strangers (i.e. 'somebody that I used to know') for a moment in time.

    It also represents how one can never completely cut their loved one from their memory. To support this, notice how Gotye's unpainted side turns almost randomly towards towards the viewer and back -- the video is trying to illustrate that Gotye is still not merely 'somebody that -she- used to know' in spite of Kimbra's efforts to forget Gotye. This is because the memories of Gotye sporadically fade in and out of her mind, even when she doesn't want to remember some of those memories. Likewise, Kimbra is not always a stranger (or 'somebody that -he- used to know') because her unpainted side turns back towards Gotye several times in the video.

    1. Kimbra walks away from Gotye
      • This represents the 'argument' part dying down -- Gotye and Kimbra are no longer thinking about who is right or wrong regarding whether or not Kimbra cut off Gotye too harshly. They are no longer imagining their old partner right beside them shouting in each others ears. They go back to reflecting upon the mere fact that they are strangers to each other and so the video shows Kimbra walking away.

    8*. But then why is Kimbra walking towards and away from Gotye instead of Gotye walking towards and away from her?

    • This would require an additional interpretation of the video. To understand this, the video also has to represent how Gotye may not have been the only victim here. Kimbra walking towards and away from Gotye instead of the other way around may represent how Kimbra was making an effort to resolve things by traveling towards Gotye first. However, in the end she gives up due to frustration (the 'ooooh/ahhhhh' part sang by Kimbra).
    1. Paint fades from Kimbra's back
      • First, it is important to note that because porn is not normally allowed in a music video, Kimbra's back had to be the side painted and not her front.
      • Second, the analysis: Above, I argued that whenever the unpainted side of either of their faces face the viewer, the video is trying to illustrate how that is a moment when that person ceases to become a stranger to the other person.

    Accordingly, since Kimbra's back loses her paint near the end, this represents how she really, really ceases to become a stranger to Gotye. Again, this is because her back had a lot of paint on it (thus, she was almost always just a person in the crowd to Gotye) and then it faded, so she is now not just a person in the crowd (or 'somebody that -he- used to know) to Gotye. What does this all mean? See the End analysis below.

    1. End (i.e. Tragedy)
      • The ending of the music video is somewhat tragic for Kimbra. It is much, much more so for Gotye.

    Kimbra sees Gotye as just 'somebody that -she- used to know,' a mere face in the crowd (i.e. mosaic). Again, the reason is because only a bit of Gotye's face is unpainted. She will remember him from time to time, but he isn't that important to her anymore. It is somewhat tragic for Kimbra because she tried to resolve things between them -- she didn't think that she cut off Gotye as harshly as he puts it.

    Gotye, at the end of the video however, does not see Kimbra as just 'somebody that -he- used to know.' She stands out in the mosaic -- if Gotye ever saw Kimbra in a crowd, she would stand out immediately because he misses the relationship that much more.

    The lyrics defend this argument:

    "You said that you could let it go And I wouldn't catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know"

    Kimbra thought that Gotye would have been able to get over the breakup. She was clearly wrong as seen by Gotye's response in the next verse:

    "But you treat me like a stranger and that feels so rough"

    I would argue that Gotye is in denial. It seems like he has gotten over the break-up...

    Gotye: "I guess that I don't need that (*'that' refers to her love) though"

    ...but notice how he says 'I guess.' This likely represents Gotye's uncertainty and lack of confidence in his claim (i.e. that he has gotten over the relationship).


    • At the end, both Gotye and Kimbra say 'somebody' in a fading out tone. Since they are looking at each other and their unpainted sides are shown to the viewer, they are both probably reflecting about each other (like I have argued throughout the essay.)

    • When Gotye counters Kimbra in the last verse, Kimbra is making an 'uhhhhh/ahhhhh' noise. That represents how whenever she remembers his argument ('But you didn't have to cut me off...'), it bothers her because Gotye claimed that he was going to get over the relationship, yet he hasn't.

    Feel free to argue against my analysis of the video if you have good reasons to back your claim up. Just state that you're replying to my interpretation.

    Also I didn't spend that much time on this (I probably only spent like 1-2 hours) so if I missed anything feel free to add things that may supplement my interpretation.

    mercownzyaon July 09, 2012   Link
  • +11
    My Opinion

    I am in love with this song. The film clip is something special, too. Kimbra's voice complements Gotye's perfectly. The chorus is so heart-wrenching and full of emotion. If this is any indication of what the rest of Gotye's upcoming album is going to be like, then I'll be one happy fan!

    60_miles_an_houron July 09, 2011   Link
  • +11
    My Interpretation

    I don't think this is about regretting a break up, I think this song is about how after breaking up, he wanted to be friends and she won't acknowledge him anymore. And that hurts worse than anything, being blatantly ignored after you've shared so much and loved someone so much. The person he left turned into someone he used to know, he has no idea who this person is anymore, stooping so low that they won't meet with him or talk to him or anything. The person changed their number so he couldn't call them or have any sort of communication with them, and he wouldn't have thought they'd be like that. But then the song gives it from her point of view, that she is hurting and pissed and doesn't want to have anything to do with him because she dislikes how he views her now.

    Sahon September 14, 2011   Link
  • +9
    General Comment

    I love how this song shows two sides of the breakup. The guy from the get go felt that there was something missing, but didn't really let on that this was a chronic state for him and that he really didn't think they had a future. The girl felt totally fulfilled by him and guilty that he wasn't getting the same out of it, feeling like somehow it was her fault, that he was blaming her for his being unhappy. When she realized that all this time he'd been hiding his disconnect, the whole thing must have felt like a sham to her. The kind of love she thought he had for her was never there, and it made her feel used and foolish, and she wanted to distance herself from the situation. He didn't mean it as a charade, though. He really wanted it to be love and considers it unfair of her to punish him for not being able to connect better. He doesn't like being made out to be the bad guy any more than she did.

    baqaqion May 23, 2012   Link
  • +9
    General Comment

    I agree that Gotye blending into the mosiac is about his feeling of loss of significance, and Kimbra's emergence from the paint is her standing out for Gotye. I also agree that the song depicts the personal reflections of Gotye and Kimbra -- they are not literally arguing face to face, but rather monologing.

    However, I would argue that Gotye is /not/ over the relationship and is only now coming to terms with the blow of the break-up. The subtext is brilliant.

    1. He expresses no understanding that Kimbra had been feeling hurt in their relationship for a long time. In fact, all he talks about are his own feelings -- alienation, unhappiness, resignation -- oblivious to the indubtible impact of his animosity on Kimbra. When Kimbra proposed their break-up after enduring his unhappiness it was very serious for her -- for Gotye, it was just a nebulous sigh of relief. ("Well you said that we would still be friends, But I'll admit that I was glad that it was over") Even when Kimbra expresses that she wants out of the relationship, he still fails to fully emotionally engage in Kimbra or their relationship. Demoting their relationship to a friendship works perfectly for him.

    2. The break-up was much harder on Kimbra. She'd been battling alone for their relationship for a while and then when she became exaspirated, he didn't even seem to mind their conclusion. Angry and hurt, she distanced herself. Gotye is stunned by the severity of her reaction. Only when Kimbra stops letting Gotye walk all over her does she emerge from environmental noise/mosiac to become a whole entity for Gotye.

    3. We hear Gotye use the phrase "somebody that I used to know" in his own monologue, but it's clear from Kimbra's use that he doesn't always employ his sentimental, introspective tone with that phrase. After breaking final ties (having friends retrieve her things, changing her number) he inflicted that term on her as retaliation for her 'cutting him out.' Kimbra throws his words back in his face: "You said that you could let it go, and I wouldn't catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know." When Gotye was finally confronted with the wound of her absence he reacted with anger instead of compassion. With a boy's wounded pride, Gotye chastizes Kimbra's emotionality, cruelly implying that she's beneath him because she just can't get over their break-up, and that the intensity of her reaction is innappropriate. Meanwhile he's tormented by her distance.

    The title phrase's meaning performs a spectacularly poetic piroutte from dismissive apathy into an explosive, aching wist.

    lftmnschon July 13, 2012   Link
  • +8
    General Comment

    It's common for people who have abandonment and betrayal issues to focus on the temporary nature of relationships and have an innate inability to trust. Lovers like this (Gotye) often, even in the early and middle stages of relationship, convince themselves they don't need anyone or anything or any love as demonstrated in the lyrics "i guess i don't need that though" and "I don't even need your love."

    For these people, the act of loving someone actually hurts, not generally associated with pleasure -- as in "that was love and it's an ache I still remember" -- because of what it inevitably leads to: being hurt and left behind. They associate love directly with pain and they turn off or away from the beloved after brief glimpses of love, intimacy and closeness.

    But the attachments are still attachments -- the needs ARE real -- and when the attachments are broken they feel alienated even when they are in agreement it's not working. The protest phase begins...lashing out...blaming... demonstrated by the raised voice in the chorus blaming "you didn't have to cut me off... you didn't have to stoop so low..." (you, you, you...) In the video, notice how the volume of singing is quieter and more revealing and emotionally tender and honest when the lover is naked and alone and he gets louder when he is in her presence, camouflaged and "safe?" He doesn't even look at her when he's singing his protest. His body is rigid. This is genuine fear.

    The beloved's (Kimbra's) voice points out the experience of the beloved being blamed for actions that represented previous loss and feeling set up for failure. In the video, notice how the beloved's voice is softer when she's camouflaged, her face is NEVER camouflaged and she is able to look at him. Her body is fluid when it moves. She speaks her truth with poignancy and courage. She's able to say what she wants, "I don't wanna live that way,""Reading into every word you say" and being confused with what damage she caused and what was residual from the past, "had me believing it was always something that I'd done." She clearly has tried to connect and is frustrated by the wall of ridgity and blame she's faced with.

    They both have a certain manner of "hiding" to do from one another; these passionate emotions are dangerous and vulnerable. I think the lover is the more damaged of the two. The beloved stands up for herself, is able to walk away. He can't by virtue of it being mostly his song. He's hanging on imaginatively because imaginary, former, lamented relationships are safer than real, challenging current ones. He is called out by his beloved's experience with him being unable to let go of others that he "used to know" in the lyrics "You said that you could let it go / And I wouldn't catch you hung up on somebody that you used to know..."

    I think it's interesting that the camouflage is gold, silver and bronze and green and filled with sharp edges. That which we find the most valuable and soft of metals should have such sharp, painful corners. Green symbolizes life. The lover has no green in his camouflage, but his eyes are BRIGHT green. The lover has some green; her eyes are dark. (She's partially healthy). And the lines in the artwork are tiny chains (symbol of burdensome attachment and prison -- how love can imprison us.)

    "Somebody i used to know" also is demonstrative of the idea that people are always undergoing change. You may know them now, but you may not know them later...bc the ties to sharing intimate information and experiences has passed.

    This song and video both illustrate how relationships in the Western cultures tend to have a certain solidarity and finiteness to them (a concept with more "sharp edges") and we might see this song, because the experience in it is so painful, to look for opportunities to take better care of one another, even as our relationships grow and change...and to take a bit more responsibility for those we love, to move with more fluidity and grace through life and love.

    The big question is "how?"

    rbccstmrtnon March 19, 2012   Link
  • +8
    General Comment

    This song is pretty easy to understand but some are reading too much into it.

    She was so in love with him and he can't understand how he doesn't "own" her anymore. The relationship was too easy for him but that's what he considers love. (Maybe he's incapable of loving back) He was resigned to stay in the relationship because it was effortless on his part but it made him lonely and sad therefore he wasn't upset when it ended. The "sadness" that he was addicted to was the fact that he could do whatever he wanted and still be in complete control of her.

    Now he can't deal with the fact that she actually moved on. She realizes what happened. He screwed her over, made her believe it was her own doing. Why would she want him in her life anymore?

    He doesn't get it. The dude is more than likely narcissistic.

    lolhahahaon August 29, 2012   Link

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